Signs, strike pay sign up as union prepares for casino strike

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (AP) — As their leaders negotiated with management on Tuesday, Atlantic City casino workers braced for the possibility that those talks could fail and the union could go on strike Friday morning.

Local Union 54 of the Unite Here union was due to negotiate with Hard Rock on Tuesday, with talks scheduled with owners of three or four others on Wednesday in hopes of reaching new collective agreements and avoiding a strike during one of the weekends. -ends most loaded casinos. the year.

The union authorized a strike against the Borgata and the three casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment – Caesars, Harrah’s and Tropicana – on Friday. He also set a Sunday strike deadline for Hard Rock.

Two other casinos, Bally’s and Ocean Casino Resort, have so-called “me too” agreements in which they agree to adopt the terms of contracts entered into by the biggest properties in town, meaning they will not facing a strike.

On Tuesday morning, workers at union headquarters began stapling “On Strike” cardboard signs to wooden sticks inside union headquarters, forming picket signs for striking workers to carry outside casinos that are the target of industrial action.

And workers have also started taking out reduced strike pay from a fund the union runs for walkouts. One of them was Ruth Ann Joyce, a bartender at Harrah’s and Hard Rock casinos.

She, like many other workers, said she was falling behind as casinos emerged from the coronavirus pandemic and tried to regain their footing amid worsening inflation and severe labor shortages. work.

“Most casinos make money, and we want to be part of it,” she said, stapling sign after sign, wearing a hoodie commemorating the union’s last strike in 2016 against the Trump Taj Mahal.

This strike, over health care and retirement benefits, forced the casino to close. It reopened in 2018 as Hard Rock under new ownership.

Joyce predicted that casinos would struggle to provide basic services if the union went on strike this weekend.

“I don’t believe that in our time there are workers to bring in,” she said. “We have to pay well to retain the workers we already have.”

The union has said it is seeking a “significant” pay rise as part of its next contract, but has not publicly disclosed how much it wants.

In previous contracts, say union leaders, they focused more on maintaining health care benefits at the expense of wage gains. But in the current climate, they say, workers need higher pay to meet the rising cost of gas, food, rent and other expenses.

The syndicate mainly negotiates with Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International, owner of Borgata, the most successful company in town.

The next few days should provide more insight into whether a strike seems likely against some or all of the casinos that have yet to reach an agreement with the union.


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